APRIL 17, 2015 by Stephen McLaren
Secularism is all inclusive



The International Humanist & Ethical Union (IHEU) has the vision of a secular world in which human rights are respected and everyone is both able and enabled to live all aspects for a life of dignity.



The word secular or secularism is commonly mis-interpreted or mis-represented as being anti-religious or anti-religion, as founded in extremist atheism. Such distortion can bring special treatment in recognition of persecuted vulnerability. But that could not be further from the truth !

So let's bring it up to date, representing its accurate present-day meaning : Secularism is a mode of governance which is neither sacred, monastic or ecclesiastical in the sense of a statutory based non-democratic awarding of privilege. That is not to say that such are not included and welcomed. Inclusion is open equally to all in a secular paradigm in which privilege is afforded only by the democratic process. And why would any organisation or institution not wish to be included when one considers that their membeship have inclusion by virtue of their rights on the register of voters ?

All people, regardless of their beliefs, have the right to respect and must be allowed the freedom to participate in society with integrity and honesty.  With rights, of course, come responsibilities and it is clearly unjust to expect respect for oneself and one’s own beliefs whilst denying this same respect to others. Within modern democracies, equality cannot be achieved if all are not given a voice. Everyone has the right to express themselves but in a secular society which is open to the views and beliefs of all, it is even more important for communities and groups to listen to one another. This is particularly so when beliefs and values which are good in themselves, clash or when there are moments of tension which threaten to disrupt stability and undermine community cohesion.

So, secularism has imperatives:

  • It acknowledges that we are all part of a multi-cultural society which incorporates a variety of  beliefs, religious, non-religious or none, live & let live etc.
  • It recognises that we all share society equally with equal rights and responsibilities.